cannabis, harlem

Harlem Heights: Harlem Will Soon Have A Legal Cannabis Store

The Apollo is about to get a new neighbor on 125th Street. According to The New York Post, there is about to be a cannabis shop in the heart of Harlem.

The first state-licensed marijuana store in Harlem will open next weekend after a contested fight. The shop is slated to open across the street from The Apollo at 248 125th Street on Sept. 5.

The store, Gotham Buds, was reportedly met with opposition from local merchants in the area as well as several politicians. The shop owners have come out victorious despite a lawsuit filed by the 125th Street Business Improvement District.

Amazingly, since lawmakers in New York have legalized the once-illegal plant, there have only been 23 licensed cannabis retail stores that have opened.

A judge ruled that cannabis regulators may have broken the law when granting earlier licenses. They allegedly favored giving the licenses to convicted pot dealers over disabled veterans and other social equity applicants. A court injunction prevents the state Office of Cannabis Management from opening or licensing any more weed retail stores.

Luckily for the owners of Gotham Buds, a judge granted them and nearly two dozen other cannabis operators an exemption from the injunction after they cleared all regulatory hurdles and were on the verge of opening.

“The Apollo is a community landmark. We hope to become a cultural landmark. We want to be part of the 125th Street legacy and hope to earn their trust,” said Gotham Buds co-founder Omar Tejada.

“It’s an excellent location for a new cannabis license. We have ties and relationships with the community. We want to approach this community with a conscience,” said Tejada.

His co-founder, Gregory Gray, is a lifelong Harlem resident who attended all Harlem schools, PS 197, Adam Clayton Powell Middle School, and Rice High School.

For the owners, it is not just about cannabis. They hope to distribute other medical information to Harlem residents to help them live healthier lifestyles.

The third owner, Jeffrey Lopez, used to be on the illegal side of selling cannabis and has come full circle.

“Our mission is to educate young people not to get lost in the criminal justice system. You will get lost in the criminal justice system.” Tejada stated. He acknowledges Lopez’s business acumen. “He’s got business in his DNA. His entrepreneurial spirit is impressive.”

Despite opposition, the men are confident that the people in the neighborhood will welcome them.